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Bluebook Citations: Secondary Authorities

Guide to basic legal citations to the 20th ed. of The Bluebook.

Secondary Authorities

What Are Secondary Authorities?

Secondary authorities provide commentary and interpretation of the law.  The law is primary authority, but secondary authority can illuminate how the law is applied.  Whether it is used as an aid to the researcher who seeks a better understanding of the law or by the practitioner to bolster an argument, secondary authorities include (in order of persuasiveness):

  • Restatements of Law
  • Treatises (written by leading authorities in a particular subject)
  • Journals and Law Reviews (written by leading authorities in a particular subject)
  • A.L.R. Annotations
  • Legal Encyclopedias
  • Dictionaries

Secondary authority can be persuasive authority at best.  It can be highly persuasive as in the case of a Restatement section that has been adopted as "the law" in a jurisdiction or not as in the case of legal encyclopedias authored by employees of publishing houses.

 

 

A.L.R. Annotations

Citations are to the 20th edition of The Bluebook, A Uniform System of Citation.

Rule 16.7.6 Annotations (p. 168)

Cite discussions in selective case reporters (such as American Law Reports and Lawyer’s Reports Annotated) by the author’s full name, followed by the designation “Annotation” in ordinary roman type and the title of the work in italics:

Elaine K. Zipp, Annotation, Actions of Off-Duty Policeman Acting as Private Security Guard as Actions "Under Color of State Law" Actionable Under Civil Rights Act of 1871 (42 U.S.C.A. § 1983), 56 A.L.R. Fed. 895 (1982).

Points worth noting:

  1. Elaine K. Zipp, J.D. is listed as the author.  Exclude the J.D. [Do not include a designation such as “Dr.” or “Prof.” even if it appears on the title page. (R. 15.1)]
  2. The word, "Annotation," follows the author's name.  This designation immediately alerts the reader to the type of material being cited, a selective case reporter.
  3. It isn't clear in the Bluebook, but for A.L.R. annotations, they are cited to the book rather than commercial electronic databases like WestlawNext or Lexis Advance.

 

Treatises & Books

Citations are to the 20th edition of The Bluebook, A Uniform System of Citation.

Rule 15 & Rule B15 Treatises & Books

Bluebook citations to books and treatises are substantially different from other style systems like MLA and Chicago in that the publisher's name and location are not given and the author's name is not inverted with the last name first. 

Example (one author, only edition, one volume, pincite to page 109): 

Mark K. Osbeck, Impeccable Research, a Concise Guide to Mastering Legal Research Skills 109 (2010).

Jonathan Harr, A Civil Action 109 (1997).

Example (editor, no author, one volume):

The Antarctic Treaty Regime (Gillian D. Triggs ed., 1987).

Example (two authors, only edition, one volume): 

Michael D. Murray & Christy H. DeSanctis, Legal Research and Writing Across the Curriculum:  Problems and Exercises 189 (2009).  
Note the use of the ampersand (&) to separate two authors' names.

Dictionaries

Citations are to the 20th edition of The Bluebook, A Uniform System of Citation.

Rule 15.8(a) & Rule 15.9(b) Dictionaries (p. 155-57)

It is easier to cite to a print dictionary than to an electronic one simply because you can eliminate the Rule 15.9 data with just a page number.

Example of citing to the page where "legislative history" is found in the 9th print edition:

Black’s Law Dictionary 983 (9th ed. 2009).

Example of citing to Black's Law Dictionary, 9th edition, on Westlaw (classic):

Legislative History Definition, Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009), available at WestlawNext.

Example of citing to Black's Law Dictionary, 9th edition, on WestlawNext:

Legislative History Definition, Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009), available at WestlawNext.

Restatements